Elizabeth Girard, LMT of Lotus and Moon, shares how massage positively impacts pregnant women in her practice.
*hint prenatal massage makes an incredible gift, and Lotus and Moon offers gift certificates!
In my massage therapy practice I see clients for many different reasons. Some of my favorite clients are pregnant women and I consider it a gift to work with them. It is a time like no other, when the body and mind are going through tremendous change. As a mother of three, I understand it is a sacred time, one that should be respected and honored. It is a privilege to witness and aid a new mother’s transformation.
Prenatal Massage Health Benefits
The body goes through dramatic changes throughout a pregnancy. Because of the many health benefits to getting a massage while pregnant, massage therapy is a wonderful way of supporting mother-to-be. Low back pain, headaches, leg cramps, sciatica, and hip joint pain are the aches that I most often see in working with pregnant women. These common discomforts associated with physical changes can be addressed in a natural drug-free way.
The body goes through huge structural shifts and these transformations can be eased by releasing muscular tension. Pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster due hormonal fluxes and life changes. Massage soothes the nervous system by releasing endorphins and decreasing stress producing cortisol. By relaxing the body and helping to relieve anxiety, better sleep is enhanced. Increased blood circulation provides oxygen and nutrients to both mother and fetus, while stimulating the lymphatic system aids in the removal of toxins. In my practice, I strive to provide an environment where a mother can feel safe to fully relax, supported in both spirit and body.
What to Expect During Your Prenatal Massage
If anyone decides to have a prenatal massage it can be helpful to know what to expect. Massages in the first trimester can be very similar to a typical massage session. Work done is often mostly focused on relaxation and easing any muscular tension. Usually starting in the second trimester a mother is no longer comfortable lying on her stomach. We can then work with the mother lying on her side with pillows used for support. I also use a large angled bolster to place clients in a semi reclined position to work more comfortably on the neck, shoulders, head and face. During a massage, clients are fully covered and I only undrape the area I am working on at the time.
Because of the need to shift positions clients should plan on the session being a little longer than usual. I usually recommend an hour or hour and a half for full body sessions. Thirty-minute sessions are appropriate if a client only wants focused work on one or two targeted areas of the body.
During pregnancy women often feel more vulnerable, so a massage requires an extra level of trust between the client and practitioner. Clear communication is crucial to ensure clients feel comfortable, safe, and well supported. It is important for the client to make the therapist aware of any pregnancy related health issues such as pre-eclampsia, hypertension, severe swelling, blood clots, or varicose veins.
If you are unsure massage is right for you make sure to check in with your obstetrician or midwife. Other mothers can also give you good input on their experiences. This is what one of my clients had to say: “I knew if I ever was pregnant again, I wanted a prenatal massage. I generally like massages- but the prenatal massages I had were the best massages I’ve ever had. Your body is growing a whole other human, so it’s doing some hard work. I’m guessing that’s why a massage was so incredible. I had a massage about 48 hours before our baby was born and I attribute some of that initiation of a labor that eased into active labor to that last massage. It relaxed my body and got everything started. My only regret- not making time for a postpartum massage in the first few weeks after birth.”